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What are the HUMAN FACTORS in IT?
Human Factors are most overlooked but also most crucial aspects. Find out why.
Tags: Frink  services  Magazine  CISCO  Human Factors  Business Factors  Tech Factors  collaboration  usability  communication  user experience  corporate culture  consumer/user insights  human-machine interaction  human-computer interaction  behavioristic research  organisational research  customer journey  ethnography 
Generally, we divide in three categories:

(a) humans: users, employees, physicians, your mum, etc.
(b) the equipment used: computers, screwdrivers, information in xls sheet, etc. And
(c) the working environments they operate in: offices, construction sites, kindergardens, airplanes, etc.

More analytically:

(a) All humans share some basic needs (shelter, food, love, safety, appreciation…), the intensity and frequency of which, is as unique as a fingerprint, based on life experiences. Naturally, humans also have individual capabilities and limitations both physically and intellectually; not everyone can play in the NBA or become a quantum physicist.

(b) It is unimaginable to work without equipment, tools and IT enterprise – however, their relevance and appropriateness could be challenged and improved. A surgeon won’t have the performance of his life if he is given a spoon, and a salesman can’t travel around a country on a skateboard. When dealing with information that is used in the workplace, its structure, visualization and accessibility are crucial aspects. Just think how hard it is to do a job in a company with a silo mentality, where no one wants to share information or give you access to it.

(c) The environments we act in set the framework for how we are supposed to do things; depending on the size of the company, they consist of various job positions, requirements and responsibilities. Corporate values, processes, safety rules or fringe benefits determine our effectiveness, performance and satisfaction at the workplace. Ideally, those aspects compose a smooth, cooperative and valuable addition to the business model of the organization.

Ask the right questions

Usually, human factors teams work on finding a good equilibrium between the three pillars. This mix could be described as high compatibility between the pillars by designing an interlinked system or process.
In order to achieve that ideal balance in IT projects, an assessment from both technical as well as human/organizational sides you can start to address simple questions such as:

* Which technology fits my employees’ needs and level of knowledge best?

* Which technology can best support my daily business and therefore, help me make money?

* Which measurements (trainings, communication strategies…) should I take to accompany the introduction of a new system?

* Can I derive any conclusions from the use of my collaboration technology and apply them to the network of my organization?

The Human-Machine-Interaction

Of high importance is also the relation between (a) humans and (b) equipment/tools which is often referred to as “human-machine-interaction” or “human-computer-interaction”.
Usability is the degree to which a system is intuitive and easy-to-use system (without much pre-knowledge). And it is a key element between humans and computers or machines.
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For questions regarding Human Factors in IT or Frink's approach of the human factors in collaboration services please see our case studies or contact us here.
Editorial Team: Claudia Kaefer
The corporate world can be (for simplification purposes) divided into humans, tools and environments, which all relate to human factors. Not one factor can exist in isolation: there is hardly any job out there that humans can do without tools; and jobs/tasks still require humans to be completed. And since human factors are crucial for implementing any successful IT project, we decided to introduce them to you in more detail.